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About these solicitors costs?!

(46 Posts)
curiousgeorgie Fri 28-Feb-14 10:48:31

I've just relieved a bill from my solicitor and it is huge... Much bigger than we had anticipated.

Someone is trying to have contact with my children so it's a lengthy process... I get that we have hired a good solicitor but some of these costs seem to be taking the piss..

The day of our consultation they emailed us to say it was lovely to meet us, and have charged £30 for that email.

On the day of the first hearing I sent a message to say I was stuck in traffic and would be 10 minutes late.. ( to meet solicitor, not for court slot) they sent a message back saying 'no problem' and have charged £30 for it...

They asked me my opinion on sending a letter to the other party about something and I said no. They went on to send me 4 emails trying to convince me to do it, no again... But have been charged 120 for them...

My solicitor was out one day so we dealt with a different one with regards to a query, that's fine and should be charged, but when we went to court he came too and has billed us 1000 for 4 hours of his time, although he did nothing and I don't understand why he was there, as we already had our regular solicitor plus a barrister.

I kind of want to dispute this, but we have more court dates to come and I don't want bad feeling.. Plus, they're solicitors and surely can argue a lot better than we can! wink


nennypops Fri 28-Feb-14 10:53:49

Are you sure they've charged you for every single email? The bill probably says they are charging for X emails at �300 per hour, but does that include every single email they've sent you? Sometimes clients get paranoid about that but the reality is that in counting up the emails the solicitor has actually left out the short ones that are just acknowledgements etc.

If they really are charging on the basis you set out, I think you do need to query it, otherwise it will carry on.

MelanieCheeks Fri 28-Feb-14 10:54:11

So the rates appear to be �30 per email, and �250 per hour for whoever attends.

I'd certainly ask them (nicely) to go through the costs and explain them to you.

eurochick Fri 28-Feb-14 10:58:18

I think that the things you are disputing seem reasonable and personally I wouldn't have billed any of them except maybe the 4 emails trying to pursuade you to do whatever it was you refused. If in my professional opinion, it was something you really should have done, it would have been remiss of me to suggest it, receive your refusal and leave it at that.

It is not unusual for a client to want to dispute some aspects of a bill, so just tell your solicitor politely that you want to do this, and set out the reasoning as you have in your OP.

MrsSteptoe Fri 28-Feb-14 11:04:31

Eurochick, am I right in thinking that a solicitor can't bill you for time spent discussing or disputing charges? (You sound like you are a solicitor, hence the reason I'm asking you - forgive me if I've misunderstood!)

redcaryellowcar Fri 28-Feb-14 11:16:30

just asked dh (who is a solicitor, although not family law) he said you should only really be charged for things that 'advance the case' so the hi and welcome e mail probably shouldn't be paying for. dh seems to always be having discussions about costs with insurance companies, wonder if its just the norm for this industry?

LessMissAbs Fri 28-Feb-14 11:20:45

Hmmn, most solicitors charge in terms of units of 6 minutes. So perhaps the email was 1 unit, which gives an hourly rate of £180? Which seems reasonable enough, except its debateable whether you should have been charged for some of these things at all.

I would query your bill with your solicitor, and if no joy, the managing partner of the firm and ask for it to be audited in some way, and then take it from there. It could be that they have someone new on feeing or something...

HermioneWeasley Fri 28-Feb-14 11:23:42

I would definitely dispute the courtesy emails and I would query why the additional solicitor was at court at your cost and your permission was not sought for this.

rockybalboa Fri 28-Feb-14 11:27:19

I am a solicitor. Your client care information will explain that solicitors charge in 6 minute units, there are 10 units in an hour. Each letter or email is charged as one unit. So it looks like the hourly rate you are paying is £300/hour (which seems a lot for family work, where are you based?) and each email they sent you has been charged at £30. Telephone calls are rounded up to the nearest 6 minutes so 30 mins on the phone would cost you £150, 6 minutes on the phone would cost you £30 and 2 minutes on the phone would also cost you £30. The second solicitor seems to have a slightly lower hourly rate of £250. If the second solicitor was simply covering for the first one to deal with a query then I see no reason why both of them plus a barrister were required at Court so this would certainly be worth querying, especially if you weren't made aware beforehand what the reason was for the second solicitor also attending Court.

You need to raise these issues now so that everyone is clear what the situation is and is likely to be going forward. I would email your solicitor and raise your concerns. Your client care information should also set out the relevant hourly rates and give you a reasonably clear fee estimate, which may or may not be broken down into the different stages of the process. You should compare the fees you have been charged to the fee estimate you have received and if in doubt, ask your solicitor whether they consider that the original fee estimate remains accurate as best as it is possible to say given the vagaries of the case.

Hope that helps.

forceslover Fri 28-Feb-14 11:30:01

£30 for an email shock I think I need to retrain!

LessMissAbs Fri 28-Feb-14 11:34:50

Doh yes, I can't add up!

BeCool Fri 28-Feb-14 11:37:11

I think it is common practice to charge for each email, reading replies etc at the minimum of 6 minute unit.
It is shocking though.

Not sure about the double attendance charge.

curiousgeorgie Fri 28-Feb-14 11:37:23

Rocky it's 250 an hour, we're in Surrey but just outside London.

AnswersThroughHaiku Fri 28-Feb-14 12:21:00


It isn't thirty
Pounds for the email, it's for
The knowledge in it.

BeCool Fri 28-Feb-14 12:24:10


forceslover Fri 28-Feb-14 12:29:52

It still seems like a lot of money to me, I hope I never need one!

curiousgeorgie Fri 28-Feb-14 12:42:59

Be cool - and your point is??

Greenkit Fri 28-Feb-14 12:45:47

Flipping hell Faints

dontyouknow Fri 28-Feb-14 12:47:26

As nennypops said, are you sure you are being charged for all these emails? I would generally record all emails sent (unless just an acknowledgement or the "no problem you'll be late" type thing). However, when I do a bill I might well not charge for everything recorded, especially if there were lots of very short emails or phone calls. The bill would say that eg £1000 of work had been done for which you are being charged £900.

If you are being charged for the work you have described then yes, I would raise it. There would not usually be a need for two solicitors to attend court as well as a barrister unless it was a very large case, which doesn't sound the case here. A junior solicitor or trainee might attend, for the experience, but you obviously shouldn't be charged for that. Provided you raise it politely with the solicitor rather than wading in with a complaint to the complaints partner it shouldn't create bad feelings. It is far better to raise it now if it is an issue than keep it bottled up until the matter has been concluded.

The rate is presumably £250 + VAT per hour = £300

BeCool Fri 28-Feb-14 12:50:20

my point is both AnswersThroughHaiku user name and reply to you above (in haiku) is genius.

Are you too busy looking for professional offence to notice? grin

neverthebride Fri 28-Feb-14 12:52:40

I know I read about a case last year where someone had been charged £4000 by their solicitor for photocopying!.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Fri 28-Feb-14 13:42:38

Sounds right ime.

justmyview Fri 28-Feb-14 13:48:54

It's reasonable to request a breakdown and / or Work in progress printout.

AgaPanthers Fri 28-Feb-14 13:57:56

£300/hour seems a bit steep. I would expect something closer to £200/hour.

You should have one point of contact, if your solicitor was out one day I don't understand speaking to someone else, because they wouldn't have knowledge of your case, and getting that knowledge would cost time/money.

ziggiestardust Fri 28-Feb-14 13:59:28

That does seem steep... You wouldn't be being out of line by asking for a breakdown of costs. They'll probably understand and you can always say things like 'I just didn't realise you'd charge me for being late, I'll make sure I set out extra early next time', fairly neutral things.

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